The Benefits of Eating Together as a Family
With any family whether big or small, there’s no doubt that it’s a challenge to enjoy a family meal together. Work commitments, sporting events and school schedules are typically what keep most families from enjoying this valuable family time together. However, research shows that children who have meals with their families are more likely to be healthy and do well in school, so it’s worth making the time in our busy schedules!
It’s common that as parents become more stressed juggling multiple tasks that unhealthy habits start to sneak into families lives. Struggling to fit everything into our busy schedules often leaves little to no time to focus on making sure our children are getting the exercise and nutritious meals that are so important for them! Starting healthy habits is a step in the right direction, but for long term success, the key is maintaining these habits.
Here are some ways to make family meals work for you!
As parents, you likely know all too well how difficult it can be to have everyone’s schedules align to be able to sit down and enjoy a meal together. That being said, there are things that can be done to make it a little bit easier!
1. Plan meals ahead
Preparing and planning for family mealtimes is key to your success. Avoid running to the grocery store last-minute, or looking for a new recipe half an hour before you need to be out the door. Choose your recipe and do your shopping in advance. You can even involve everyone in the planning, shopping and preparing of the meal.
2. Schedule time to eat together
If hockey practice, work, and gymnastics won’t allow you to have a family dinner together, try breakfast instead. Once you decide when you will have your family meal, schedule it on the calendar as you would other family events.
3. Make small changes
If you don’t usually eat any meals together as a family — it’s ok to start small. Schedule one meal per week that you all can attend and stick to it. As you can, add a second weekly family meal into your schedule.
4. Make mealtime fun
One way to make mealtime more enjoyable is to have themed dinners. Try Taco Tuesday’s or Fajita Friday’s. When making Asian cuisine, try using chopsticks! You could even bring a table cloth to the backyard and have a family picnic! Simple family traditions can make all the difference and get children excited about family meals.
Ok, so we know HOW to make time for a family meal together, but what’s missing is the WHY. I mentioned earlier that children who have meals with their families are more likely to be healthy and do well in school, but there are many more benefits!
Mealtimes bring families together
Families that eat together tend to be closer. You can’t beat that benefit. Mealtime is a great time to put away technology and focus on conversations. Having a set time to focus on being together as a family, and sharing updates on everyone’s lives is a great way to encourage children to open up and bond as a family.
Did you know that people who eat together tend to eat better? A study showed that when people eat together they tend to eat more fruits, vegetables and nutritious foods. They also tend to eat less processed foods!
Better grades & higher scores on achievement tests
Studies show that children who eat with their families tend to get better grades and achieve higher scores on tests! Adding more family mealtimes is a no brainer!
Better self-esteem & fewer depression issues
A study showed that having frequent family meals with a positive atmosphere was able to predict less depressive symptoms in children. A study from New Zealand showed that an increase in family mealtimes led to more positive moods in young adolescents.
Researchers found that for young children, mealtime conversations boost vocabulary more than being read aloud to! When children have a bigger vocabulary, they tend to read at a younger age and read better than their peers.
At Kids & Company, we practice family-style dining. The children and teachers sit together at a table, serve themselves and eat together. The goal of family-style dining is for children to develop self-help skills, social skills, empower them to make their own food choices and create pride and ownership of the food they are eating!
For your next family meal, try our Fancy Fish Tacos.
What you need:
- 6 Fish Fillets
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1/2 tsp Minced Garlic
- 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 1/2 tsp Oregano
- 6 Whole Wheat Tortillas
- 1/4 Cup Grated Cheese
What to do:
- Make sure to wash your hands before you begin.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Mix all spices together in a small bowl.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place fillets in a single layer.
- Brush fillets with olive oil, and sprinkle with spice blend and garlic.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until fish is cooked through.
- Place fish inside tortilla and top with grated cheese.
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @kidcochildcare and on Instagram @cheflisaruscica!
Chef Lisa Ruscica
Chief Food Ambassador